Early each year, ice cream makers share with Dairy Foods their plans and predictions for the upcoming ice cream season. A big surprise in putting together this year’s Ice Cream Outlook was the discovery that frozen yogurt is back. And just as we were putting this issue to bed, the New York Times ran a story about the hot Los Angeles fro-yo chain Pinkberry and its many imitators.
Yes, imitators! Competitors are fighting tooth and nail, even threatening and suing each other to bring Angelinos something we all thought was completely passé. Pinkberry was founded last year, but the article traces the revival to a Korean company called Red Mango that was started in 2004.
And what differentiates the products of these trendy newcomers from their older competitors? The yogurt is all natural and tastes like natural, tart yogurt. A small number of simple flavors are offered with healthful and sometimes adventurous toppings. Pinkberry’s two flavors are Plain and Green Tea, and its toppings include berries, granola and, if you ask for it, sticky rice.
This new frozen yogurt has become so popular that some locations have lines out the door, and parking shortages. Pinkberry’s website features a quote from a Los Angeles Times columnist calling it “The taste that launched a thousand parking tickets.” Now, I know that few of you readers are entrepreneurs from Los Angeles, but guess what-retail sales of frozen yogurt have rebounded too. It’s time to take another look at this opportunity.
Everybody is Irish in March, even Swiss cheesemakers in Wisconsin.
Roth Käse, Monroe, Wis., has just added a line of imported and Irish-inspired cheeses to its diverse portfolio of specialty products. The four selections in The Irish Range include a revival of the traditional Derby cheese, a semi-soft table cheese made with whole milk and cultured cream. There’s also Donovan’s Auld Irish Cheddar. Produced by a cooperative of small family farms in Ireland, this vintage Cheddar is selected for its superior flavor and texture. Emerald Swiss is a mild, nutty cheese aged for six weeks, and Roth Käse says Kelly’s Cow has a mild-and-mellow flavor and smooth, velvety body and is well suited for melting applications.
The company suggests a Ploughman’s Lunch, with all four Irish Range cheeses, or a new twist on fondue with equal parts Emerald Swiss and Kelly’s Cow, and a shot of Irish whiskey to sub for the white wine.
The cheeses aren’t just for St. Patrick’s day, however, Roth Käse will offer them year-round. You’ll find more insights into new cheese flavors, and forms throughout this issue of Dairy Foods, in particular in the Cheese Trends Spotlight.
Some months ago in this space you read that several food companies had recently hired or promoted women to top executive positions in their corporate structures. Among them was Irene Rosenfeld who joined Kraft Foods in the top spot, coming from Frito Lay.
Late last month Rosenfeld unveiled Kraft’s get-well plan (see p. 12) at a meeting with Wall Street analysts. Many of those analysts were underwhelmed by Rosenfeld’s proposals, which focus primarily on corporate marketing and innovative product development. But at least one saw it as a realization that it will take plenty of hard work to right Kraft’s ship. It will be interesting to watch as Rosenfeld’s ideas are put into action-perhaps they will be more effective in the long run than the quick fix some had expected.
Finally, I hope you were as excited as we were about the good news in last month’s Milk and Dairy Beverage Outlook. But we quoted MilkPEP’s Tom Nagle in referring to milk’s “weightless benefits.” It really should have read “weight loss benefits,” and that was our mistake, although I’m guessing the folks at MilkPEP might be dancing on the ceiling lately.